The judges and the judging: The Irish Times Amateur Photographer of the Year Awards

Meet the judges for this year’s The Irish Times Amateur Photographer of the Year Awards

We have assembled a really great judging panel and we have an extremely fair and thorough judging process. Each picture is seen by at least two judges and the top shortlisted images are then re-examined in detail by the entire panel. The initial judging and scoring is done online using the Picturk scoring platform. The images with the highest scores are then considered in great detail by the panel in an all-day session.

Because of the diversity on our judging panel the debates surrounding the final choices are always lively and sometimes even heated. The view of what makes a great image can be quite subjective. Those of us from a background in photojournalism prefer images which show spontaneity, emotional engagement and lack of artifice. Those from the camera club/amateur photographer scene tend to be sticklers for detail , and especially interested in technique. Top commercial/fashion photographer Barry McCall will be looking for quality, originality and atmosphere as well as good composition and lighting. Those from the world of Art Photography will be looking for something fresh and different which leaves behind any clichés from the past. What we are all looking for is great original photography.


  • Take time to prepare and think about your entry, and enter your images in the correct category.
  • Trust your judgment. Enter pictures you like, not ones you think might catch the judges' attention.
  • Avoid visual clichés. The Judges will have seen it all before, so if you revisit a well-worn theme make sure you bring something new to it.
  • If you use Photoshop, use it as a digital darkroom to enhance your image quality without distorting the subject.
  • Read the rules and be aware that overuse of digital manipulation could disqualify you.
  • Do not enter images with watermarks: your copyright will be respected and usage of your images will be in accordance with the rules of the awards.
  • Give your image a title and any other relevant details.
  • Upload images in the highest resolution allowed.


Frank Miller


Frank Miller is picture editor and a staff photographer at The Irish Times. Frank has covered a wide range of domestic and foreign assignments for the newspaper and is a three-times winner of the overall PPAI Photojournalist of the Year Award. His foreign assignments have included the Diana funeral, flooding in Sudan, the Kurdish crisis in Iran/Iraq after the first Gulf war, the genocide in Rwanda, the plight of the Palestinians in Lebanon, ethical tourism issues in Cambodia and, most recently, the issue of African migration across the Mediterranean into Sicily. His coverage of the situation of the minority Hmong ethnic group in the extreme north of Vietnam resulted in an exhibition in the Irish Aid centre in Dublin and in the Dublin Central Library as part of the PhotoIreland Festival in 2013.

Amaia Arenzana

Amaia Arenzana was the overall winner of the 2012 Irish Times Amateur Photographer of the Year Awards, also achieving first and third prize in the Open Category. She is a graduate of UCD (MSc) and took up photography as a hobby during a career break as a family therapist in 2008. Photography has become a very important tool to express her creativity and the way she sees the world around her. Her fascination in the array of different ways of photographic expression has brought her focus to film photography and traditional darkroom processes. She is currently working on projects for private clients.

Monika Chmielarz

Monika is artistic director and photo editor of BLOW Photo, the Lucie Award Art Photography Magazine. She also moonlights as freelance photographer and art curator.

Monika's first work in the creative arts was as cofounder, director and manager of a theatre company in Poland. Working with international companies and artists, she produced plays which were shown around Europe. In theatre Monika learned about story telling, about keeping an open mind, and framing ideas into a cohesive whole. This influenced greatly her direction as a photo editor.

After graduating in photography from IADT and working as a photographer Monika got involved with Blow Photo from its establishment in 2010. The magazine has featured the work of some of the photography world’s most renowned names, and in 2013 and 2014 was nominated for best magazine at the Lucie Awards, during their annual event in New York honoring the greatest achievements in photography. Beautifully printed in large a3 format, BLOW Photo celebrates photography as an art form and provides lovers of photography with a collector’s item of sorts.

John Duncan

John Duncan studied Documentary Photography in Newport graduating in 1989 and Fine Art Photography at Glasgow School Art graduating in 1992. He has been one of the editors of Source Photographic Magazine since 1994. He has lectured part time in photography at Queens University and at the University of Ulster. He has served on the Board of Belfast Exposed and was chair between 2012-2014. He is on the Board of Belfast Photography Festival. He continues to make his own work and his book Bonfires was published by Steidl in 2008.

Brenda Fitzsimons

Brenda Fitzsimons is a staff photographer and deputy picture editor with The Irish Times. Brenda has won numerous awards including the prestigious AIB/PPAI Photojournalist of the Year Award and the A.T.Cross Photographer of the Year. Her work has brought her on many assignments around the world including Afghanistan, Libya, Bangladesh, Malawi and the earthquake in Haiti where her work was exhibited in the Gallery of Photography. She has worked in Sierra Leone where she contributed to the 1000Days project with Concern. Brenda instigated the book ‘Caught On Camera’ a project where schoolchildren documented their lives in the Dublin Docklands. The publication won the Business to Arts Award.

Ángel Luis Gonzalez

Ángel Luis González Fernández is the founder and Director of Photo Ireland. The organisation celebrates Ireland’s International Photography festival every July. In 2011 he launched ‘The Library Project’, a publicly accessible collection of publications around photography, holding over 1200 key items from 220 publishers worldwide. The Library Project premises are also host to an Art bookshop and a gallery. Ángel won the David Manley Entrepreneur Award 2011 in the Arts category. He has reviewed in festivals like Les Rencontres d’Arles, and published books like ‘Martin Parr’s Best Books of the Decade’ in 2011, and ‘New Irish Works’ in 2013. He has designed books for photographers such as Miriam O’Connor and David Farrell.

Tanya Kiang

Tanya Kiang studied Communications at Dublin City University, where she majored in Photography. She has been the Director of the Gallery of Photography in Dublin since 1998. She has curated exhibitions by many leading contemporary photographers, and has a keen interest in developing new audiences for contemporary photography through publications, photobooks and new digital technologies. She is a jury member on numerous international photography panels and is a regular reviewer at international photofestivals. Recent projects include curated exhibitions for Irish Museum of Modern Art, for New York Photo Festival, Three Shadows Gallery, Beijing and the upcoming Chongqing International Photography & Video Biennale, as well as The Solas Prize – an exciting new international photography award.

Barry McCall

Barry McCall is one of Ireland’s most influential photographers. Specialising in fashion, advertising, beauty and portraiture, his distinctive style brings a classic and timeless touch to contemporary photography. Barry continues to be inspired by his first loves: classic art, old movies and the ever changing fashion of our times. His work has appeared internationally in magazines such as Vogue, Elle, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone and UK Tatler. Along with some of the world’s top supermodels, including Claudia Schiffer, Helena Christensen, Yasmin Le Bon, Sophie Dahl and Erin O’Connor, Barry has worked with everyone from Richard Branson to Colin Farrell, Black Eyed Peas, Michael Fassbender, Liam Neeson, U2 and Gabriel Byrne. He recently published a 20 year retrospective entitled Pho20graphy – in aid of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children – which showcases a style that celebrates the very best of fashion and celebrity, pushing the boundaries of technique and vision to create true works of art. Barry brings a sense of elegance to Irishness and Irishness to elegance.

Danny McCaughan

Dr Daniel V McCaughan FRPS is a former President of the Northern Ireland Photographic Association and a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, currently working for Kernel Capital.He has been active in digital imaging systems since the 1970s and worked in USA on the early BellSystem “Picturephone” and later led research and development teams in image capture and processing, in which he has a Doctorate degree. He has very broad photographic interests including Natural History, especially catching images of flying insects with hand held cameras, and capturing the fleeting moments that often pass us by. While still involved with his local camera club in Donaghadee his broader current interests include Contemporary Photography, defined as Photography that conveys ideas, stimulates thought and encourages interpretation that is photographs “about” rather than “of”, which might characterise many of the images entered into previous years’ Irish Times competitions. He is hoping to see competition images that challenge the viewer, that show innovative and creative thought, and require more than a casual look.

Michael O’Sullivan

Michael O’Sullivan is current president of the Irish Photographic Federation, and is a very experienced photographer in both the amateur and professional arenas, having had his work published both nationally and internationally. He produces Landscape, fashion, commercial and portrait work, but is best known for his personal work, which may be described as “Fantasy themed conceptual Art”. Stylistically, his work references the painters of the Renaissance, Baroque and Romantic eras, as well as the great fantasy artists of the 20th century, but retains a unique signature. He is a Fellow of the Irish Photographic Federation, and a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society. Michael is a member of the Adjudication panel for photographic distinctions with the Irish Photographic Federation. He is an experienced photography teacher: a popular lecturer and speaker in Ireland and the UK. He leads workshops for photographers at all levels, including master-classes for advanced photographers. He has judged competitions throughout both Ireland and the UK, and as far afield as Canada.